Now I am not going to touch the trial and the speculation that inevitably goes with it. Welsh forward Ched Evans was found guilty of rape in 2012 and was jailed for five years. He has now served half of that sentence, due to British law he can now be released and it looks likely he will be out of jail tomorrow. Those are all facts.
With his impending release now imminent, the footballer )now twenty-five years old) will be expecting a return to professional football.
That has caused a bit of a stir, to say the least.
A lot of rumours are suggesting that his previous employers Sheffield United (who released him after his conviction) could be willing to take him back.
At the moment, a petition is doing the rounds with 145,000 signatures stating that they don’t want Ched Evans playing for Sheffield Utd again. You can understand that because quite simply he’ll go back to a cushty, well paid, high profile job as a convicted rapist. It is unsavoury.
But in our society, we are trying to have an equal playing field and many believe that once you’ve served your time in jail, then you have been rehabilitated and should be able to continue with your life. It shouldn’t really matter what your job is.
Now I believe that if Evans wants to resume his footballing career and a club want to hire him then fair enough.
The striker could help his own case if he comes out and shows some remorse. Not for the crime, as he is adamant he didn’t commit any crime. But he can still be remorseful for his behaviour which was seedy and sordid to say the very least.
What I would say is this, the football club has to remember their fans in all of this. No one player is bigger than the football club and its community. It is a distinct possibility that a club that signs Evans could suffer a split in its support.
Will most clubs care?
Nope. Unfortunately even in delicate decisions such as this no club will sign Evans for any other reason than money. He is a commodity that had decent potential and at twenty-five still has resale value. They might say ‘we are helping him integrate back into society’ or that ‘everyone deserves a second chance’ but none of these clubs will have schemes set up to help other people with criminal records get jobs within their clubs. Just be honest and tell the truth, you’ve signed him to score goals. Would they sign an average full-back in the same circumstances? I doubt it.
I haven’t enjoyed the PFA’s stance in the whole situation. Obviously as a union they would back a member or a player having the opportunity to come back into the game and earn a wage. But instead of solely focusing on Ched Evans, they should be reaching out to rape charities and domestic abuse charities. Pay a donation, ask for their help (for seminars with players explaining the dos and don’ts) and overall show that they stand by the many victims of these horrible crimes.
I’ve been banging on about this for years now, football is a big business and that business has overtaken the sport element. That is why Ched Evans will sign for a football club. No other reason. But the fact remains that the footballing world could have handled the whole situation a lot better!